The second of four Friends of Gryphon Football alumni socials is in the books and I’d call it another success. Fifty people came out to Wellington Brewery on Woodlawn Road West in Guelph. They enjoyed some food, sampled some WB brews, greeted old friends, met new ones, listened to the coaches and left very positive about the 2015 season.
Half of those in attendance were football alums from the 1960s to 2012. Several other alumni including super-fan Sylvia Thurston and part-owner of Wellington Brewery’s Brent Davies, were there. Some parents, spouses, coaches and a few current players and recruits rounded out the crowd.
Davies and his partners at Wellington deserve a lot of credit for making the event possible. Rob Kitching arranged and coordinated things with WB and solicited in-kind donations from football alumni Mike Ruff and George Bortolato to support the event. Steve Parisotto secured a nice donation to our door prizes from Alltech Canada. I also have to give a big Thank You to Eleanor Duncan and Elisabeth Verboom for preparing so much of the food.
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You know that these alumni events are accomplishing something when you read an email the next morning where one of the attendees, who “cannot contain (his) excitement for the 2015 season”, emails more than forty of his Guelph alumni contacts to tell them, “Just came from the Football social at Wellington Brewery in Guelph and was blown away by some of the news on the football program”. Then he exhorts them, “(i)f you have never got a season ticket before this is the season to start”.
There are two more upcoming events for people to come out to – Toronto‘s International Plaza Hotel on Tuesday, July 28 and Nathan Body’s Peak Powersports in Oakville on Thursday, August 6. If you’re a football alumnus who hasn’t received an invite to events in your area just drop me an email at email@example.com because there is no question our database has some holes in it.
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We took a break from the socializing to let Randy Dimitroff bring an update on the Friends of Gryphon Football’s activities.
I don’t usually pay a lot of attention when Randy is talking but I think he said FoGF was renewing itself with a new executive – Rob Kitching, John Stasiw and Fred Dunbar were among the new executive members if I recall correctly. There is still time to get involved if you want to be a part of the FoGF leadership. Your best bet would be to contact Randy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dimitroff also told us the organization was going to look at adopting a more formal structure in the near future. There will also be even more opportunity for UofG alumni to enjoy the football experience with coming changes at Alumni Stadium. The FoGF Golf Tournament takes place on August 14 at Guelph Lakes.
Next, Head Coach Stu Lang outlined what is going on in the program including the renovations coming to Alumni Stadium – a new dressing room, new training room, six meeting rooms, player lounge, indoor viewing area for alumni, rooftop viewing area for alumni and coaches offices. Lang introduced the coaches present – Kevin MacNeill, Todd Galloway, Bill Brown, Brian Cluff, Mike Aloisio and Strength & Conditioning Coach Jordan Foley. Lang asked Foley for confirmation of how many Gryphon players had stayed in Guelph for the summer and were participating in the 5-day-a-week off-season training. The number was 56.
A key factor in being able to have 56 players stay in Guelph for the summer is being able to find jobs for them. Two of the biggest job providers were in attendance. Lang thanked alumni Rob Kitching [Ferr-Tech Industries] who employed four Gryphons and James Savoie [Frontier Landscape Design] who employed six Gryphons. Lang also said he believes the two most important factors for a successful college football program are i) Recruiting and ii) Alumni.
Coach Lang started off the Q & A by asking OC Todd Galloway to highlight some of the freshmen recruits who may have an early impact. Galloway said Jaylen Guthrie stood out because he is the first recruit for the program from a Quebec CEGEP – Montreal’s Vanier College. Guthrie, who hails from Pickering, is a little older than the typical high school recruit and will come into training camp at 6’7″ & 285 pounds. He should be able to push veterans immediately and see some playing time in 2015.
Galloway indicated he was very pleased with his group of receiver recruits. (Burlington Nelson’s Sam Lewis was present.) And while some may earn playing time as freshmen this group was really recruited to come in this year to learn and develop in order to compete for dress roster and starting positions in 2016 when there will be some major graduation losses. Running back Mack Jones, out of Lakeshore in Port Colborne, was another player with the potential to have an impact as a freshman. He had a very high ceiling to his potential according to Galloway.
While acknowledging that there was some truth to the rumours surrounding ex-Laval Rouge et Or QB Alex Skinner having interest in playing for the Gryphons, OC Todd Galloway made it clear to those gathered he had “no announcement to make at this time”. And while Skinner has recently visited Guelph it didn’t sound like an announcement was imminent. Skinner played at l’Université Laval from 2011 to 2013. He was the starting QB throughout Laval’s 2013 Vanier Cup winning season and graduated this spring. Skinner is eligible to play in 2015 and has two years of eligibility left.
Kevin MacNeill wasn’t sure how to top that “news” but he did tell those present that alumnus Heron Tait was rejoining the coaching staff in 2015. He also took questions from the audience:
What is the status of Jordan Thompson?
Answer: Everything is good for JT to return this year. Coach Cluff is expecting a big year from him.
Who will replace Cam Walker if he sticks with the Argos?
Answer: Coach Cluff pointed to Blake McNeely who was in attendance. McNeely has been groomed for this and they expect a lot from him. DC MacNeill said that with John Rush, Curtis Newton and so many other vets returning on D they were in good shape.
Coach MacNeill, do you think that this group can do what Gryphon defenses did in 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1992, and finish as the top defense in the CIS?
Answer: Yes! Absolutely! It is one of our goals. We believe we have the talent to do it.